Someone recently sent me a version of this poem. Turns out there are several versions and several author claimants. The two most likely authors are Veronica Shoffstall or Judith Evans, though the person who sent it to me has had it for many decades, so it could be older than any of the self-professed authors. If you are interested in a discussion about who wrote this poem, you can find it here: Author of Comes the Dawn.
Comes The Dawn
After a while, you learn the subtle difference
between holding a hand and chaining a soul.
And you learn that loving doesn’t mean leaning
and company isn’t security.
(Kisses aren’t contracts and presents aren’t promises.)
After a while you begin to accept your defeats
with your head up and your eyes open,
with the grace of a woman, not the grief of a child.
And you learn to build your roads on today
because tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain
and the inevitable has a way of crumbling in mid-flight.
After a while you learn that even sunshine burns
if you stand too long in one place.
So, you plant your own garden and decorate your own soul
instead of waiting for someone else to bring you flowers.
And you learn you really can endure,
that you really do have worth.
You learn that with every good-bye comes the dawn.
July 25, 2010 at 3:19 pm
Beautiful. “Head up and your eyes open” I like that very much.
August 30, 2010 at 6:31 am
Shoffstall claims it herself on her Linkedin account and says it was published by the name of “After Awhile.” The copyright date is 1971. I first read it about 20 years ago when I was living temporarily in a women’s shelter with my four children and wondering what had happened to my life. I still count it as one of my favorite poems– a great feminine commentary!
November 6, 2015 at 12:59 pm
Ditto and ditto. You made it. Im still white knuckling ptsd…thank you
November 6, 2015 at 1:00 pm
Btw its my moniker
December 4, 2010 at 9:03 am
From where is the actual expression, “comes the dawn?” Does it come from battlefield origins? Religious? Anyone know?
December 4, 2010 at 11:48 am
The earliest use I can find for the phrase is a vocal arrangement written by Joseph Hadyn in the nineteenth century called, “Then Comes the Dawn.”
May 12, 2012 at 1:01 pm
I was read this poem, about 20 yrs. ago, from a friend whose mother-in-law had given it to her 10 yrs; earlier. When I met her mother-in-law she told me she had been given it at least 10 to15 yrs. before she had shared it. That her mother had found it in a book and it was then signed “anonymous”. I have seen some people claim it on some poetry sites, and I even reported one young lady for plagiarism, ( mostly because she had butchered. If you would like to it).
I, myself have had poetry of mine published and have read a lot of poems, but in my opinion this is the best poem I have EVER read. It touches the soul, (or my soul, I guess I should say).
The copy I have is slightly different from the one above. If you would like to see the differences which are very few email me.
May 13, 2012 at 9:23 pm
Donna, As you say, the poem is much older than anyone who claims to have written it. Thank you for stopping by to tell me about the poem you have.
February 16, 2013 at 9:30 am
I love this poem too after having it for over 20 years, but I like my version better then the one above. Mine has a different ending that makes it more universal. I was wondering if you have the same version I have.
November 6, 2015 at 1:02 pm
I too noticed the subtle differences…
August 18, 2012 at 3:25 am
I first encountered this poem in the 1970s. So we know it’s at least about 40 years old.
December 22, 2012 at 12:55 pm
The original poem, called “Y uno aprende”, was written by Jorge Luis Borges (24 August 1899 – 14 June 1986), an Argentine short-story writer, essayist, poet and translator born in Buenos Aires. Definitely plagiarism by Veronica Shoffstall – she should be ashamed.
December 22, 2012 at 2:15 pm
I knew she couldn’t have written it — too many people had a copy they cut from the newspate in the 1960s. I’ve even seen it attributed to Shakespeare.
January 21, 2014 at 2:35 am
Folks, I went looking for the origin of the phrase “Comes the dawn”, and was surprised to find a lady is claiming credit for inventing it in 1971. My first encounter was from the wonderful movie and Broadway play by Philip Barry, “Philadelphia Story” . The play premiered in 1939, and its use there suggests it was old even then. According to Wikipedia it was also the source material for the 1956 musical “High Society”, but somehow I have never seen that film. In any case that was the earliest I met “Comes the Dawn.”
June 20, 2014 at 4:59 am
That’s the earliest in print, I could find so far. From May 18th, 1986. Credited to Veronica A. Shoffstall
The Jorge Luis Borges line is interesting, but it had been refuted all over the internet (mainly spanish language sites), saying it’s nowhere to be found in his printed works.
July 8, 2020 at 5:16 pm
I worked with Veronica A. Shoffstall in the 1970’s. Her aunt was the office manager where we worked. One day I happened to see the poem at work and asked where it came from….It was titled, After the Dawn. Her aunt told me Ronnie had written it…..I think while attending college. I believe a lot of people have claimed it as their own (slightly different versions) but I truly believe Veronica is the author…..